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Ezra Pound: The Solitary Volcano

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  60 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Unlike other biographical portraits of Ezra Pound, John Tytell’s brilliant and ambitious work offers an interpretive study that boldly confronts the emotional truths and psychological drama that formed this complex and controversial American poet. Neither an apology nor a condemnation, it presents instead a meticulous exploration into the mind and vision of a man who galva ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 3rd 1988 by Knopf (first published 1987)
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Since when are you an economist, pal? The last I knew you were a fuckin' bassoon player. Hemingway in a 1933 letter to Pound.

Just before the holidays I bought a stack of copies of this less than regal biography in an ongoing attempt to keep a reading group afloat. We all are good friends, yet we all have lives and egos; social media has afforded all the willing a platform and thus an online reading group appears as it is: so 1999.

John Tytell appears to have a cut and pasted a modestly comprehen
Sep 12, 2014 AC rated it liked it
For me, who knows nothing about Pound (or modernist poetry) and only a little about Modernism, this was a 4-star book. But for someone much better informed, it would probably be a 3-star book.

This is a solid biography that covers Pound's (many) associations and his unusual character (which is vividly portrayed) during a long and interesting life, and includes some (though few in number) interesting insights into the nature of High Modernism along the way. His account of Pound's years at St. Eliz
May 15, 2015 Richard rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I missed Ezra Pound in my autodidactic education, and could never really fathom his greatest work - The Cantos - but recently thought that if I availed myself of a biography I might eventually jump into the deep end of the poetry. We shall see.

I chose John Tytell's biography because of a previous work, Naked Angels: Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation. I found this bio of Pound every bit as readable, and enjoyable, if not more than I really cared to know about old Ez.

Here's the bio in a
Mar 24, 2008 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Modernists, other dynamic personalities
Shelves: non-fiction
I originally picked up the biography of Ezra Pound for three reasons, and one of them was that I've always been interested in the guy. However, I must admit, this was the lesser of the three reasons. Mainly it was influence on T.S. Eliot, followed closely by it being only $7 at the local second-hand bookstore. Surprisingly, after a couple of weeks, I found myself in the last few pages, weeping.

Most of the information I had on Pound was, I now realize, sensationalized - his artistic fervor, his m
Lauren Albert
It is astounding the number of people that Pound knew and influenced. Even many of those disgusted by his political views and his treasonous radio broadcasts during the war felt his importance. Tytell is no psychologist but I did wish I could have understood better exactly how Pound became the ranting fascist he sometimes was. I personally believe he was mentally ill but can see how it was a difficult case to decide. I also wished that Tytell had discussed the poetry a bit more--I've often compl ...more
Jim Hale
Jan 13, 2014 Jim Hale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
A barn-burner biography of a fascinating genius who was an important literary figure and a vile man indeed. This book is a romp through the first half of the last century and a penetrating portrait of one of the most outrageous Americans who ever lived.
Talmadge Walker
Feb 10, 2015 Talmadge Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Balanced bio of the insane poet.
Apr 06, 2009 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Ezra Pound with two companions,” says the photo caption. The companions are both women. If I’m not mistaken, they are Jane Heap and Mina Loy, neither exactly obscure and neither an insignificant figure in modernist poetry. . . but it was 1987. Eighties Pound worship will always baffle those of us who lived through it, as baby-boomer academics and junior faculty struggled to restore their dethroned idol to the fountainhead. (His fascism was an illicit kick, a walk on the wild side, with the mora ...more
Mark Folse
Jun 12, 2014 Mark Folse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
I chose this biography for its brevity and availability on Kindle, aware from comparative reviews that it was more than a simple "life of" and less than the other heavy tomes available. I found it lively and opinionated but well grounded, with an excellent colection of quotes from The Man himself and those who knew him to feel comfortable with the author's well supported conclusions. A very good introduction to an incredibly complicated figure. Well done and recommended.
Thomas Walsh
From Idaho to Philly, to London, to Paris, from Italy to Pisa, to insane asylum and back again to Italy, Mr. Tytell covers all of this author's uproarious, mysterious and controversial life. Tom
I am taking this book back to the library. The introduction and first chapter did plenty enough for me in chronicling Pound's life events. Next time I will get Pound's poetry instead.
Jun 03, 2011 Miles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author demonstrates Pound's own aesthetic in the writing of this thorough and detailed biography.
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“He had great respect for a novelist like James. Pound knew about the concentration of energies required to write novels and also knew that he did not have such qualities, that his inspirations came more in flashes than in sustained work. Writing prose was difficult,” 0 likes
“Pound’s three classes had 57 students and he was bored by the prospect of drills and exercises, so he moved the course in the direction of his own pursuits. “I do not teach, I awake,” Pound jotted in a manuscript note written on “Histrion,” one of the poems he was working on.” 0 likes
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